Minneapolis City Council spending millions to begin undoing the damage of its war on cops
Crime has exploded in Minneapolis in the wake of the riots that destroyed a swath of the city when George Floyd died of a drug overdose in police custody. Incorrectly[i] blaming the police for murder, vengeful mobs demanded defunding the police, and Mayor Jacob Frey allowed a violent mob to sack and burn the Third Precinct Station, which unleashed days and nights of looting, arson, and violence.
The City Council reacted stupidly, with some calling for complete dismantling of the Police Department, and City Councilor Lisa Bender gaining worldwide fame and the kind of immortality that attaches to idiocy of a high level by claiming that calling the police when an intruder breaks in “comes from a place of privilege.” On CNN:
CAMEROTA: Do you understand that the word, dismantle, or police-free also makes some people nervous, for instance? What if in the middle of night, my home is broken into? Who do I call?
BENDER: Yes, I mean, hear that loud and clear from a lot of my neighbors. And I know -- and myself, too, and I know that that comes from a place of privilege. Because for those of us for whom the system is working, I think we need to step back and imagine what it would feel like to already live in that reality where calling the police may mean more harm is done.
The Council voted to slash $8 million from the police budget, and large numbers of rank-and-file officers began taking early retirement and medical leave (some of it stress-related), leaving the city protected by only 638 cops, down from 876 on duty in 2019, a 27% decline in the force available to keep the peace.
With fewer cops protecting the citizenry and the city's politicians unsupportive, criminals took advantage. As the U.K. Daily Mail noted:
By the end of the year, police had recorded 532 gunshot victims, more than double the same period a year ago.
Carjackings spiked to 375 by December, up 331 per cent from the same period last year. And violent crimes topped 5,100, compared with just over 4,000 for the same period in 2019.
City residents complained, and the City Council apparently heard them, voting unanimously to spend millions on recruiting more cops. Liz Navratil of the Star-Tribune reported two days ago:
Minneapolis will hire dozens more police officers after City Council on Friday agreed to release $6.4 million to bring on additional recruits.
The unanimous vote came eight days after Minneapolis police requested the funding, saying they were down 200 police officers from recent years. The additional funding comes at a time when some City Council members and activist groups are pushing to replace the Police Department in the wake of George Floyd's death.
Minneapolis police said they began the year with 817 officers on their payroll, 60 fewer than the prior year. But, only 638 officers are currently available to work, the department said. Some officers resigned or retired early in the year, while another 155 remain on some form of extended leave.
It should be noted that recruiting and training new employees is expensive, so the $6.4 million allocated may not pay for salaries and other personnel expenses for the slightly enlarged police force. According to Fox News:
With new recruit classes, the city anticipates it will have 674 officers available at the end of the year, with another 28 in the hiring process, the Star Tribune reported.
The 674-officer goal would still be only 77% of the force that protected the city a couple of years ago. Add in the other 28 the plan hopes will join the force, and it is still down almost 20% from the normal level of two years ago.
Then there is the question of what sort of cops will be hired. Michael Lee in the Washington Examiner:
In a bid to convince council members to approve to hire more officers, Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo vowed to roll out an updated application process that would ask potential applicants whether they have degrees in criminology, social work, psychology, or counseling. The updated application would also ask whether prospects ever volunteered or participated in programs such as the Police Activities League.
How effective will such people be? John Hinderaker comments:
It occurs to me that the average police officer knows more about social work, psychology and counseling than most degree holders in those fields, but that is a topic for another day.
And the abolish the police faction is not yet done. Liz Navratil of the Star-Tribune:
Three City Council Members — Phillipe Cunningham, Steve Fletcher and Jeremy Schroeder — have written a proposal that would replace the Police Department with a public safety department that includes police and other services. It would also remove the mayor's "complete power" over city police operations.
Yes 4 Minneapolis, a coalition of local community groups, is also collecting signatures to try to get a similar proposal on the November ballot.
The Daily Mail adds:
According to The Star Tribune, the Yes 4 Minneapolis committee is being fueled by a half-million dollar grant from the Washington, DC-based group Open Society Policy Center, which is associated with billionaire George Soros.
Organizers hope to collect 20,000 signatures by March 31.
'We have a policing system that doesn't work for us and we need alternatives,' said Rachel Bean, who signed the petition Saturday.
'I'm a social worker and I feel like we have lots of tools that we could try to create more community safety.'
The petition would remove police department language from the city's charter and create a public health-focused Department of Public Safety, 'including licensed peace officers if necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the department'.
[i] Inflammatory pictures of Officer Derek Chauvin pinning him to the ground with a knee on his neck as Floyd complained, "I can't breathe" led many to accuse the police of murdering him. Only later, and with comparatively little media attention, did the facts emerge, that Floyd had made the same complaint about breathing while sitting in the police car before his violent resistance caused him to be pinned to the ground, and that the coroner could find no evidence of asphyxiation. Officer Chauvin goes on trial for second-degree murder and manslaughter starting March 8.